Stock Up for the Lock Down!
The threat of a lockdown is on the cards as Covid-19 or (novel) Coronavirus wreaks havoc across the globe. With increasing confirmed cases being reported in Ireland on a daily basis, the outlook is quite grim. Reports from our Health Service Executive (HSE), World Health Organization (WHO) and the scientific community acknowledge that we are still in early stages of understanding this new virus fully, but all agree that its modus operandi is similar to that of other Coronaviruses, which are responsible for most common colds. You would have to have your head in the sand if you have not learned about the importance of good hygiene, hand washing and cough/sneeze etiquette and self-isolation but in the midst of panic and stock-piling toilet paper, some practical nutritional measures may easily be overlooked.
In the event of a lockdown, forcing people to stay at home, it is a good time to prepare your shopping list and stock up on the good stuff now! Let’s look at some ingredients to minimize the risk of becoming very ill with this virus, especially for those who are elderly, those who are immuno-compromised or have underlying respiratory vulnerabilities? While we do not have the benefit of scientific studies about nutrition in relation to this specific Covid-19 yet, we do have a wealth of information about strengthening the immune system, supporting the barrier defenses (respiratory and gut linings) and nourishment for convalescing. With this in mind, here are some ideas of what to include in your lockdown grocery list!
Vitamin C foods are top of the list and luckily for us they are plentiful, store well and easy to consume. Source the best quality oranges, mandarins, lemons and kiwis available. Their tough skin protects the vitamin C content inside during transit so make sure there are no bruises or breaks in the skin. Vitamin C has several roles in the human body, one of which is supporting immune function. It is involved in building and maintaining connective tissue and fatty membranes, which forms our barrier defenses of the respiratory and digestive tract. Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant, protecting us from cell damage, builds collagen and mobilizes defensive immune cells to sites of injury and infection. We do not make vitamin C or store it and being a water-soluble vitamin, it dissolves quickly once ingested, with any excess excreted through urine. As such, it is best to consume vitamin C foods in smaller quantities throughout the day rather than having a load in one go. The same can be said for supplement vitamin C – little and often for continued supply.
Stock up on bones from a good butcher to make broth. This age-old remedy for colds and flu has lasted throughout the ages and no doubt will be seen to be effective in this crisis too. Broth warms the throat and sinus passages, killing off viruses and reducing their impact. Full of immune-boosting minerals, zinc, glycine and collagen – broth is nutritious, comforting and easy to digest, making it an ideal tonic for the elderly and sick, who may already have diminished appetites.
Like the broth, warm drinks are vital during a respiratory, viral infection – you can add more power to your tea by steeping a cinnamon quill, cloves, turmeric and fresh ginger in the teapot for at least 5 mins, making a chai-type tea from your usual black tea. Skip the milk as it can be mucus-forming for some and keep this tea on the go to stay hydrated and protected. Check your spice rack and make sure you have a fresh supply of these spices, not forgetting fresh ginger root, which can be kept in the fridge.
Fortunately, onions and garlic store well and can be added to everything from soups, broths, stews and roasts. The key to using these ingredients for an anti-viral impact is to load up, do not hold back – add them in abundance to your lunchtime and evening meals. Studies have indicated that garlic is more effective as an antimicrobial in its raw state, rather than cooked – add some freshly chopped or minced garlic to your dishes when serving, as well as adding it in the cooking. With everyone in the house on lockdown – no one will complain of your garlic breath!
Food staples such as oats, rice, pasta, dried pulses and potatoes keep well too and provide sustenance and calories for recovery. Add in plenty of carrots and sweet potatoes to the stockpile as they can be stored for weeks and are full of betacarotene, necessary for the respiratory linings. There’s a bit of a rush on canned foods right now but beware that much of them are high in salt (dehydrating) and low on nutrition. However, do get a few cans of organic tomatoes, beans and chickpeas for quick add-on to meals as these retain most of their nutrition, are easy to use and are non-perishable.
I have written two articles recently “Kung Flu Fighting” in December 2019, issue 271 and “A Better Way to get Better” in January 2020, issue 275, both of which have loads of tips for choosing and preparing foods during illness and recovery. They are now available to read in the blog page our website. While these articles are not specific to Covid-19, the content is relevant and may help you and the people you are caring for to be nourished and resilient during this crisis.
Ré Nua Natural Health Blog
We keep you up to date with news, events and happenings at the clinic.